Understanding Family Reunification Visa for Germany

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Are you residing in Germany and thinking of bringing your family members here? Are you confused about the process, eligibility, documentation etc? Well, this article will answer most of your questions regarding the Family Reunification Visa.

First, let’s understand what a Family Reunification Visa is. Simply put, it’s a Visa that allows you to get your family members to live in Germany. Through this Visa they can either work or study based on their interest. This is however valid for people who are from outside the EU region. For people who are a part of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the European Free Trade Association, all you have to do is financially maintain yourself. You can work without the need to obtain a work permit or a residence permit. 

It’s a long stay visa which can be later converted into a permanent permit.

Who is eligible for a Family Reunification Visa? 

n order to obtain a Family Reunification Visa, one must be a relative of the person legally residing in Germany. Also, one of the most important criteria is that the person residing in Germany must be able to financially support/sponsor the relative. 

Following is a list of relatives who can join their family members in Germany through this Visa:  

Spouse – Registered Partner of the German Resident 

Expats living in Germany can obtain this visa to bring their spouses to Germany. The German resident must fulfill the criteria below: 

  • an EU long-term residence permit, 
  • a residence permit or 
  • an EU Blue Card. 
  • capable of financing the other partner/spouse 
  • must be over 18 
  • must know German

If your spouse is a citizen of a country that’s an EU Member all they need to have is a National Identity Card. However, if your spouse is from a Non EU country then he/she must have the following documents: 

  • Registered Marriage Certificate 
  • Date of Birth Certificate 
  • Basic Knowledge of German – This is to ensure they can communicate in German. For eg: Greet people, Introduce themselves or even ask their way around. 

There are exceptions to the general rule of having basic knowledge of German language. Your spouse does not need to know German language if any of the following apply: 

  • You own either an ICT card, a Mobile ICT card, or an EU Blue Card. 
  • According to Section 18c (3), Section 18d, Section 18f, or Section 21 of the German Residence Act, you are in possession of a residence permit. 
  • You are a resident of one of the following countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United States of America, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 

You must register your family at the Residents’ Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt) once they arrive in Germany . Within three months, you must submit an application for a residence permit to the local immigration office. You must provide your passports, birth and marriage certificates, pay stubs or tax returns, proof that you are renting or purchasing housing, and any other documents that may be required, depending on your family’s situation, in order to do this. 

Minor Children 

Parents who both live in Germany may apply to bring their child over. In case of a single parent one must have the sole right to the custody of the child. If the child’s custody is shared between the parents then the parent residing in Germany must seek the right of custody from the other parent in order to apply for a Family Reunification Visa. 

Adult Child 

For an adult child, the parent needs to prove that an unavoidable hardship will be prevented by bringing them to Germany. The child must be single. However, that does not mean that she/he cannot apply for another kind of visa such as, German visitor/tourist visa, student visa to study at a German educational institution, employment visa to work in Germany or other German visas.  

Parents of legal residents in Germany 

If the parents have legal custody and/or guardianship of the minor kid, they may seek to join the child in Germany. However, foreign nationals living in Germany may apply to bring their parents into the country in order to avoid some hardships. 

Other Relatives 

Other family members may also apply to move in with their relative. For example, if you have siblings living in Germany, you may seek to move in with your brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandparent, or cousins. These visas are typically more difficult to get and are typically only granted in order to avoid certain types of hardship. 

Tip: You must seek Legal Assistance 

The entire process can be complex. There are several processes for each family member and one must also keep in mind that the documentation should be perfect to avoid any kind of delays which could be costly. Taking legal advice can help you avoid these delays and also smoothen out the process for you! 

Visa Entitlements 

On this German family reunion visa, you are permitted to work or study. If you can prove that you have the required funds and that your business idea could help the German economy, you might also be allowed to start your own company. However, unless you begin working in Germany and paying taxes and social security contributions, you will only have a limited amount of access to public finances. 

Requirements for the Visa 

Application must be submitted in the German consulate closest to your home with all the necessary documents. A list of all the documents that you may require is given below: 

  • Applicant’s passport 
  • Two application forms  
  • Two completed and signed notification/explanation forms 
  • Two recent biometric photos  
  • Travel booking 
  • Travel Health Insurance for Germany 
  • Proof of financial means – Ideally to be submitted by the German resident to show financial sponsorship. Proof can also be given by the applicant if they have enough means to support themselves. 
  • Invitation letter from the German resident 
  • Proof of accommodation 
  • Proof of the applicant’s German language proficiency at least at level A1
  • Spouse / registered partner: 
    • If the spouse is of German nationality, then a copy of the German spouse’s passport and identity card must be submitted  
    • If the spouse is a non-German residing in Germany, then proof of legal residence and their passport must be submitted.  
    • If the spouse is of German nationality, then a registration or marriage certificate attested by a foreign officer, translated into German, and legalised by the German embassy must be submitted. 
  • Children: 
    • birth certificate 
    • proof of child’s nationality 
    • proof of the parent’s right to custody and care if they live in Germany

A reference of the required document list is below. The image shows the list of documents required by the German Mission in India – just as an example. Other countries will have similar lists, though.

FRV List of documents

How to Apply for the Family Reunion Visa

The application process is the same as the other visas. The documentation however is different and one needs to have all the necessary documents in place and in order. If any of the documents is in your local language then you’ll have to get it translated by a certified translator before submission. Once you have all the documents ready according to the checklist, you will need to apply for an appointment at the German Consulate.

Please make sure that you show up on time on the day of the appointment and are ready with your documents and an explanation as to why you want to visit Germany and your background.

You will also need to pay a Visa Fee for your application to be processed. A family reunion long-term visa (category D) typically costs 75,00 Euro for adults and 37,50 Euro for minors under the age of 18. Also keep in mind that this fee is non refundable in case your visa gets rejected or you decide to withdraw your application.

Processing Time

Your visa application can take a few weeks to months, depending on your case.

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